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at Goree, had already sailed to the Gambia, under the direction of the Association, and that there was reason to apprehend he had fallen a sacrifice to the climate, or perished in some contest with the natives; but this intelligence, instead of deterring me from my purpose, animated me to persist in the offer of my services with the greater solicitude. I had a passionate desire to examine into the productions of a country so little known ; and to become experimentally acquainted with the modes of life, and character of the natives. I knew that I was able to bear fatigue; and I relied on my youth, and the strength of my
constitution, to preserve me from the effects of the climate. The salary which the Committee allowed was sufficiently large, and I made no stipulation for future reward. If I should perish in my journey, I was willing that my hopes and expectations should perish with me ; and if I should succeed in rendering the geography of Africa more familiar to my countrymen, and in opening to their ambition and industry new sources of wealth, and new channels of commerce, I knew that I was in the hands of men of honour, who would not fail to bestow that remuneration which my successful services should appear to them to merit. The Committee of the Association, having made such inquiries as they thought necessary, declared themselves satisfied with the qualifications that I possessed, and accepted me for the service ; and with that liberality which on all occasions distinguishes their conduct, gave me every encouragement which it was in their power to grant, or I could with propriety ask.
It was at first proposed that I should accompany Mr. James Willis, who was then recently appointed Cons at Senegambia, and whose countenance in that capacity it was thought might have served and protected me; but Government afterwards rescinded his appointment, and I lost that advantage. The kindness of the Committee, however, supplied all that was necessary. Being favoured by the Secretary of the Association, the late Henry Beaufoy, Esq. with a recommendation to Dr. John Laidley (a gentleman who had resided many years at an English factory on the banks of the Gambia) and furnished with a letter of credit on him for £200. I took my passage in the brig Endeavour, a small vessel trading to the Gambia for bees-wax and ivory, commanded by Captain Richard Wyatt, and I became impatient for my departure.
My instructions were very plain and concise. I was directed, on my arrival in Africa, “ to pass on to the river Niger, either by the way of Bambouk, or by such other route as should be found most convenient. That I should ascertain the course, and, if possible, the rise and termination of that river. That I should use my utmost exertions to visit the principal towns or cities in its neighbourhood, particularly Tombuctoo and Houssa ; and that I should be afterwards at liberty to return to Europe, either by the way of the Gambia, or by such other route, as, under all the then existing circumstances of my situation and prospects, , should appear to me to be most advisable.”
We sailed from Portsmouth on the 22d day of May, 1795. On the 4th of June we saw the mountains over Mogadore, on the coast of Africa ; and on the 21st of the same month, after a pleasant voyage of thirty days, we anchored at Jillifree, a town on the northern bank of the river Gambia, opposite
to James's Island, where the English had formerly a small fort.
The kingdom of Barra, in which the town of Jillifree is situated, produces great plenty of the necessaries of life: but the chief trade of the inhabitants is in salt; which commodity they carry up the river in canoes as high as Barraconda, and bring down in return Indian corn, cotton cloths, elephants' teeth, small quantities of gold dust, &c. The number of canoes and people constantly employed in this trade, make the King of Barra more formidable to Europeans than
any other chieftain on the river; and this circumstance probably encouraged him to establish those exorbitant duties, which traders of all nations are obliged to pay at entry, amounting to nearly £20. on every vessel, great and small. These duties, or customs, are generally collected in person by the Alkaid, or governor of Jillifree, and he is attended on these occasions by a numerous train of dependants, among whom are found many who, by their frequent intercourse with the English, have acquired a smattering of our language; but they are commonly very noisy, and very troublesome ; begging for every thing they fancy with such earnestness and importunity, that traders, in order to get quit of them, are frequently obliged to grant their requests.
On the 23d we departed from Jillifree, and proceeded to Vintain, a town situated about two miles up a creek on the southern side of the river. This is much resorted to by Europeans, on account of the great quantities of bees-wax which are brought hither for sale : the wax is collected in the woods by the Feloops, a wild and unsociable race of people; their country, which is of considerable extent, abounds in rice ; and the natives supply the traders, both on the Gambia, and Cassamansa rivers, with that article, and also with goats and poultry, on very reasonable terms. The honey which they collect is chiefly used by themselves in making a strong intoxicating liquor, much the same as the mead, which is produced from honey in Great Britain.
In their traffic with Europeans, the Feloops generally employ a factor, or agent, of the Mandingo nation, who speaks a little English, and is acquainted with the trade of the river. This broker makes the bargain ; and, with the connivance of the European, receives a certain part only of the payment; which he gives to his employer as the whole ; the remainder (which is very truly called the cheating money,) he receives when the Feloop is gone, and appropriates to himself, as a reward for his trouble.
The language of the Feloops is appropriate and peculiar; and as their trade is chiefly conducted, as hath been observed, by Mandingoes, the Europeans have no inducement to learn it. The numerals are as follow :
the river, anchoring whenever the tide failed us, and frequently towing the vessel with the boat. The river is deep and muddy; the banks are covered with impenetrable thickets of mangrove; and the whole of the adjacent country appears to be flat and swampy.
The Gambia abounds with fish, some species of which are excellent food; but none of thein that I recollect are known in Europe. At the entrance from the sea, sharks are found in great abundance; and higher up, alligators, and the hippopotamus (or river horse) are very numerous. The latter might with more propriety be called the river-elephant, being of an enormous and unwieldy bulk, and his teeth furnish good ivory. This animal is amphibious, with short and thick legs, and cloven hoofs : it feeds on grass, and such shrubs as the banks of the river afford, boughs of trees, &c. seldom venturing far from the water, in which it seeks refuge on hearing the approach of man.
I have seen many, and always found them of a timid and inoffensive disposition.
In six days after leaving Vintain, we reached Jonkakonda, a place of considerable trade, where our vessel was to take in part of her lading. The next morning, the several European traders came from their different factories to receive their letters, and learn the nature and amount of the cargo; and the captain dispatched a messenger to Dr. Laidley to inform hiin of my arrival. He came to Jonkakonda the morning following, when I delivered him Mr. Beaufoy's letter, and he gave me a kind invitation to spend my time at his house until an opportunity should offer of prosecuting my journey. This invitation was too acceptable to be refused, and being furnished by the doctor with a horse and